CASE STUDY: Barrel Cleaning Key At Tuscan Winery
When you think about what it takes to produce fine wines, the cleaning protocols are not usually at the top of the list. But the reality is that cleaning plays an important role in wine production.
At the La Braccesca vineyard in Tuscany, Italy, the grapes mature under the watchful eye of oenologist Fiamma Cecchieri.
Most of her time is spent in the cellars with the large stainless steel tanks or in the “barriccaia”, the barrique cellar where the fine wines mature in oak barrels. First thing in the morning, she checks the condition of the youngest wines in filled tanks.
When fresh grapes are unloaded, the first few hours are extremely important and influence all subsequent processes. Special oak barrels, the barriques and the big oaks, play a fundamental role. La Braccesca uses French oak barrels for Syrah and Hungarian oak for Sangiovese.
In addition to the origin, the size and age of the barrels also affect the style and taste of the wines. Above all, however, the oak must be carefully cleaned to prevent harmful microorganisms from disrupting the sensitive maturation process of the wines.
To prevent contamination and preserve the flavor, each barrel is cleaned before the aging period. The inside of the barrels must be prepared as quickly as possible, so staff use a barrel cleaner — a special high-pressure cleaning accessory — is inserted into the bunghole of the barrel. A rotating spray head cleans the inside of the barrel evenly and thoroughly. The water is then extracted from the barrel by the barrel cleaner.
Similar attention is also given to all transport containers and tanks that come into contact with the grapes. The use of hot- and cold-water high-pressure cleaners are used in conjunction with with special accessories to guarantee that the wine is absolutely free of particles and residues throughout the entire process, according to Karcher reports.
Inside vineyard facilities, attention to detail continues as staff maintains high levels of cleaning standards. For example, the vineyard’s hospitality area is used for welcoming customers and hosting wine tastings. The staff uses Karcher scrubber driers to ensure a neat and clean appearance.
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